Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

School Libraries

Reader’s Advisory

One of the hot topics in reference is reader’s advisory. It’s the reason many people engage in reference interactions with librarians, but it’s often hard to narrow in on exactly what a patron liked about a particular book.  And for me at least, when a patron admits that they don’t enjoy reading or actively dislikes it, I feel a lot of pressure to deliver.  I have long felt that there is a book out there for each person, it’s just a question of matching the two together.  But doing that can be a complicated, frustrating, and sometimes disheartening experience.   If I sound down, it’s because I’ve just handled two reader’s advisory interactions which went less well than I would have hoped.  In the first case, I had a freshman who “hates reading” looking for a short, funny book, but not one that would make her feel dumb (so graphic novels were out), no vampires (“read my lips: N-O, NO!”), no romances, no chick-lit books, nothing I could suggest caught her interest. “You know who’s…


Current Trends and Topics in School Librarianship

One of the best ways to get a sense of whether or not school librarianship (or really, any aspect of LIS) is right for you is to explore what the current trends and topics are in the field.  The school library field is a particularly rich one to investigate from the comfort of home because even if you don’t have database access to the leading journals, there’s a lot of great stuff out there that can give you a sense of what we school librarians spend our time thinking and talking about, and better yet, they’re free! Blogs: The wonderful (really, I’ve met her in person, she’s fabulous!) Joyce Valenza can be found over at NeverEnding Search, her blog at School Library Journal. Buffy Hamilton blogs at The Unquiet Librarian, and closer to home, Michelle Luhtala publishes her thoughts at Bibliotech.me. SLTP Professor Rebecca Morris is also active in the blogosphere at School Library Monthly. There’s so many more diverse and interesting voices from the field out there, so go explore! Webinars: YALSA offers webinars, both for free and for a…


What Does a Library Lesson Look Like?

It’s a question I get asked over and over again, by strangers and by those closest to me.  My friends and family know that I love what I’m doing, some of them know I get to do cool tech things like play with Glogster, or Prezi, or VoiceThread, and iPads, but they don’t really know what happens during a library lesson.  The short answer is, of course, not very helpful: many things.  Our core goals as school librarians are to foster a love of reading (naturally), but in today’s “information overload” age, our job is also to teach students key information literacy skills while meeting state curricular standards. “What does that mean?” I hear you asking. Well, to give you an example, the past two weeks I’ve worked with several high school classes in my practicum to help them with different research projects.  Part of this process has involved teaching a refresher on how to use the OPAC to find books relating to their topics.  Part of it has been website evaluation – a recap…


The Teacher Connection

Working in a public library (and a small one, at that), I deal with varied patrons with varied needs.  In any given day, we have toddlers arriving for storytime, teens coming in to use the iPads, middle-aged job seekers, homeschooling parents seeking educational resources, seniors looking for help with technology, boy scouts borrowing our telescope, and anyone and everyone seeking a good read or new movie to take home. Interestingly, I don’t see many teachers. Enter the Teacher Tea, a.k.a. The Library’s Educator Open House. This afternoon, I am joining my colleagues at the public library in re-introducing our public library’s wealth of resources to our local teachers.  Truth is, most of our teachers turn to their school librarian for resources and some, who commute here from other towns, don’t realize all we have to offer. While my colleagues will be introducing our downloadable audiobooks, library programming, and reminding all teachers that working in town entitles them to a free library card with no checkout limits, my job is to demonstrate the eReaders we have…


The Practicum Binder

If you’ve ever known an SLTP candidate, you’ll know that these two words have a special power over us.  The practicum binder represents the culmination of all the hours of work we put in at our practicum experiences – the rich experiences we have are condensed down into two, massive, three-ring binders filled with papers.  Yet, it’s also really satisfying to see this tangible evidence of all you’ve worked to achieve. The practicum binder serves as the official documentation of the evidence submitted to the state by Simmons when we graduate, since our diplomas become our initial licenses.  This way, if the state ever wants to audit the program, we will have the evidence to support what we said we did during our student teaching hours. The binder is a mammoth undertaking, one that must be completed over the course of the semester, within the 100 hours we are meant to work (most candidates work more, but 100 is the official minimum requirement).   It breaks down into four major components (apart from a summary…


Practicum Experiences

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend a Boston Arts Academy pep rally for the whole school at Fenway Park.  Now, I’ve been to Fenway before, but always surrounded by legions of fans.  Today, however, the park lay entirely empty, save for some groundspeople and a few (slightly confused) tourists, and it was pretty cool.  The reason I got to do this was because I am doing my high school practicum at Boston Arts/Fenway High School, and as a library intern, the librarian wanted me to be introduced to the student body as part of her staff, but it really stood out to me as a hallmark of the experiences we have as practicum students.  Though we are only at our schools for a few short months, and though the time flies by really quickly, the schools and the librarians take great effort to welcome us and make us feel included.  To my mind, this makes the experience that much richer, because it gives you a sense of every aspect of the librarian’s role…


It’s Good to Be Back

School is back in session, and though we’re only in the second week of the semester, December seems frighteningly close.  Maybe it’s because I’m on a fairly strict deadline of when materials need to be due for my second teaching practicum experience, but there really is not that much time.   But that’s not the point of this post. This post is to revel in how nice it is to be back in a school environment, doing my librarian thing. I have so far spent two days at my practicum site, and I’m already brimming with ideas and glowing with some successes from yesterday.  An 11th grade science class had come in to do preliminary research for their science fair projects.  The librarian I’m working with did a quick overview of Dewey, and then they were off to the stacks.   Some students knew immediately what they were looking for, others grabbed books on science experiments and sat down to review their choices.  But a few students looked puzzled, so I seized the chance to…


Another Semester Begins…

It’s hard to believe the semester’s start is already upon us.  Just yesterday, it seems, I was luxuriating in the post-semester haze of sleep and excitement for a full summer that stretched in front of me, gloriously empty.  Well, it didn’t quite work out that way (for the better), but I’m back and ready to take on my second round of practicum teaching (HS level), and my VERY LAST GSLIS CLASS EVER! Ahem.  It’s the last of the required “core” classes, Evaluation of Information Services, which should hopefully prove interesting as well as giving me my annual exposure to people outside the SLT program. Yet, even though the semester hasn’t officially begun yet, things are already in motion.  The fabulous new officers of the MSLA-SIG group are hard at work, preparing for the back-to-school introductory meeting, I will be on campus in two short hours to share my practicum experience, tips and tricks learned to the newest crop of first-time practicum students, and my own practicum meetings with my cooperating librarian and practicum supervisor are…


Two Weeks In

The crowning experience of the SLT program is the two practica, which are carried out at the elementary and high school levels (though starting this fall, middle school will be an option as well).   In addition to a mountain of paperwork and a log that could possibly qualify as a lethal weapon due to its sheer weight, part of what we are meant to do is learn the ins and outs of being a librarian.  This includes not only shadowing our cooperating practitioner, but writing our own lessons, collaborating with teachers, planning activities, creating displays, doing our three minor projects, and, of course, teaching. Yesterday marked the end of my second full week (though this week was a little off-kilter), so I thought it might be interesting to give you all an idea of what happens at a practicum at the beginning stages. In the past two weeks, I have: Introduced myself to the students and found out about what countries some of them have lived in Written and taught the first lesson of my…


SLT Practicum

It’s only a month into the new semester, but for those of us in the school library teacher (SLT) program, we’re already looking forward to August and September.  Our wonderful advisor, Dr. Fran Zilonis, has already wrapped up meetings with all students planning to undertake a practicum experience in the fall to let us know about deadlines and offer advice in choosing a site. The practicum experience is the capstone of the SLT program, and is required by the Commonwealth for our teaching licenses upon graduation.   Each SLTP student does two practicum experiences – one at the elementary level (k-5 or k-8), and one at the middle or high school level (6-8 or 9-12).   There are two hundred hours of work required in total, which are done under the supervision of a licensed library teacher at dozens of schools across the greater Boston area (students who attend GSLIS West do their practicum experiences in western Massachusetts, generally). What this means is that the great scramble to find practicum sites has officially begun.